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Power’s late surge leads to pole for Indy GP

by The Associated Press | May 14, 2022 at 2:28 a.m.
Will Power of Australia waits in the pit area for his car during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Will Power never imagined he'd be closing in on Mario Andretti's IndyCar career record for poles.

Now he's just three short of tying the IndyCar icon.

The Australian used his final qualifying lap Friday to move past five drivers and claim the top starting spot for the IndyCar Grand Prix.

His fast lap of 1 minute, 9.7664 seconds on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course knocked defending series champ and points leader Alex Palou to second. The Spaniard went 1:09.8090.

"I feel so privileged to get so close to him. I never thought I'd get there," Power said, referring to Andretti. "We'll just keep chipping away at it, we know that it's there. Honestly, I feel pretty blessed to get this close."

First, though, the Team Penske driver has bigger goals for today -- like winning his first race of the season. Power has won on this course four of the previous five times he started from the top qualifying spot, and he's trying to extend Chevrolet's dominance this season.

All four race winners have been powered by Chevy-powered cars and six of the first seven cars on the 27-car grid use Chevrolet engines. The lone exception is Palou, who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing.

"I wanted to get [the] pole but I knew we always lack a little bit on used reds, perhaps because I don't have a lot of experience," the 25-year-old said. "But I'm not surprised that it's Will on the pole."

Power is the fifth different pole-winner in five races and there was nothing simple or easy about claiming this one on another unseasonably warm, sunny day. Tires wore down quickly in the heat, and Power believes they will again today -- if it doesn't rain.

And it wasn't just Palou he had to hold off, either.

Josef Newgarden, Power's teammate who has two wins this season, starts third after limiting himself to one hard lap in the third and final qualifying group. Conor Daly of Ed Carpenter Racing will start a season-best fourth on his home track.

"It's much nicer to fight with these guys than not. As Will Power says all the time these are some of the best drivers in the world and it's so close, it's insane how small the gap is. We put three solid runs together. It would be nice to be on the front row, but we had one step there and that's all it takes."

Especially when Power is on the track.

"I just did my absolute best," Power said. "I didn't know where it would stack up. It was a good lap."

Nobody was more upset about their qualifying position than defending race winner Rinus VeeKay or six-time series champ Scott Dixon.

VeeKay was strong in practice and led his first-round qualifying group -- until the final minutes when he switched to the reds and faded from first to eighth with a fast lap of 1:09.9550. He'll start 15th today.

"I'm just very, very confused right now," the Dutch driver said.

Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner from New Zealand, has missed the second round of qualifying in three consecutive races and this might have been his poorest performance of all. He finished 11th in the 13-driver group with a time of 1:10.1694. He'll start 21st.

"It's just a different car every time we go out so you just try to adjust for that," he said. "Honestly, it [stinks] right now. We've got to figure it out."

  photo  Will Power, of Australia, drives his car during practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
 
 
  photo  Alex Palou, of Spain, heads into the first turn during practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
 
 
  photo  Helio Castroneves, of Brazil, looks at the results from practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
 
 
  photo  Rinus VeeKay, of The Netherlands, looks at the results from practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
 
 
  photo  Takuma Sato, of Japan, climbs into his car during practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
 
 
  photo  Pato O'Ward, of Mexico, drives during practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
 
 
  photo  Will Power, of Australia, prepares to drive during practice for the IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 13, 2022, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
 
 

Print Headline: Power’s late surge leads to pole for Indy GP

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